Autumn days in London regularly enjoy pleasant weather. There may be some rain, and by night take a coat, but generally, this is still a season when you can still enjoy being outdoors in the evening. Family holidays finish as schools return, so the main attractions can be slightly quieter, but it is still worth planning and taking action to avoid queues.
The London Underground is an excellent way to get around this busy city, with overland lines heading further out of the central areas. Plan your itinerary in advance, booking tickets for events and attractions that interest you. It will save you time once you are there. The ideas below will show you some possible things to do in autumn in London, from cultural activities to iconic landmarks and evening entertainment.
- Autumn in London
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In London In Autumn
- 1- Take The Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour
- 2- Enjoy History At Windsor Castle
- 3- See The Autumn Trees From The London Eye
- 4- See History Revealed At The Tower Of London
- 5- Enjoy The Colours Of Kew Gardens
- 6- Enjoy The Emirates Stadium Tour
- 7- Marvel At St. Paul’s Cathedral
- 8- Cruise The Regent’s Canal To Camden
- 9- Walk Whitechapel On The Jack The Ripper Walking Tour
- 10- Hop On And Off An Open-Top Bus
- 11- Immerse Yourself In Westminster Abbey
- 12- See The Changing Of The Guard
- 13- Watch A Shakespeare Play At The Globe
- 14- Stroll Around Hampstead Heath
- 15- Watch International Rugby At Twickenham
- 16- Join In Bonfire Night Celebrations
- 17- Enjoy The London Film Festival
- 18- Swing At London Jazz Festival
- 19- Watch Covent Garden Street Performances
- 20- Shop In The Borough Market
Autumn in London
- Visit Warner Bros Studios – Go behind the scenes and discover the Harry Potter film sets.
- Windsor Castle – Explore Windsor Castle’s state apartments and learn about royal history.
- Westminster Abbey – See the historic Coronation Chair and explore the place where every British ruler has been crowned since 1066.
20 Things To Do In London In Autumn
1- Take The Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour
The streets of London feature in many films and series. In the case of the hugely popular Harry Potter series, you will enjoy a guided tour of several of the locations used in this fictional character’s story.
Even if you are not an ardent fan, this walk is inspiring.
Southwark Cathedral is the starting point with several of London’s major attractions en route, places like Trafalgar Square and the London Eye on the Thames.
While the guide is essential to the walk, other participants also contribute to the enjoyment of seeing places that were part of Harry’s story.
In the end, you will have been energised to revisit Harry’s adventures or persuaded to become a fan for the first time.
Prebook your Harry Potter-guided walking tour here and if you have the time, plan to visit the Harry Potter film sets at Warner Bros Studio.
2- Enjoy History At Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle dates back to the days of William the Conqueror in the 11th Century.
Over the centuries, changes have been made by a series of monarchs, from Henry II to George IV, the weekend retreat for Queen Elizabeth II and the venue for several ceremonial events.
Your ticket provides access to the wonderful State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel, the last resting place of Henry VIII, among others.
You will marvel at the magnificent art collection during your visit.
Just a piece of advice; castles are always built in good strategic sites for defensive reasons.
Windsor follows that idea and sits on top of a hill, so wear comfortable shoes for your visit. Skip the line and book your ticket to explore the weekend home of the monarch.
3- See The Autumn Trees From The London Eye
At 135 metres (almost 450 feet), the London Eye offers great panoramas over Greater London, especially on clear days.
The Millennium Wheel, its official name, was part of those celebrations and opened on 31st December 1999.
It is a popular attraction, so the advantage of buying a ticket in advance is obvious; it takes you to the front of the queue.
Its movement is slow, so there is plenty of time to take in what is around you.
As the wheel goes round, you can pick out many of London’s iconic landmarks in the autumn landscape.
4- See History Revealed At The Tower Of London
The Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century.
Over the years, many prominent people have been imprisoned in the Tower, often before being executed.
Henry VIII was responsible for many of them, some wives, others mere conspirators who had fallen out of favour with him.
Today’s guardians are the Yeomen and the famous ravens.
Among the things that they guard are the priceless Crown Jewels, including the crown itself, filled with precious stones.
You cannot fail to wonder at the magnificence of the Crown Jewels when you see them on your visit. Skip the line and book your ticket here.
5- Enjoy The Colours Of Kew Gardens
The superb collection of flora you will see in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew is as impressive as any similar site in the world.
This is a research facility that collaborates with almost 100 different countries.
As evidence of its importance and the work it does, more than 1,000 employees are involved in this unique project.
You do not have to be interested in botany to get enjoyment here, and autumn is a beautiful season to visit.
You will be transported to tropical jungles and dry savannahs as you walk around.
Kew is where your imagination will run wild, yours and the two million others that visit each year. Skip the line and book your ticket to Kew Garden here.
6- Enjoy The Emirates Stadium Tour
The English Premiership is the most popular soccer competition in the world by some margin.
It is difficult to obtain match tickets to games between the top teams, but you may find a tour of a modern stadium almost as good.
The Emirates Stadium is home to Arsenal, a club with huge success over decades.
It holds 60,000 fans with “state of the art” facilities you can see on a tour.
Its museum charts the history of Arsenal, 13 times national champions and FA cup winner, more than any other club.
The video theatres within the museum add to the enjoyment of a visit while you can hear from past players who made great contributions while playing in the famous red shirt with white sleeves. Skip the line and order your stadium tickets here.
7- Marvel At St. Paul’s Cathedral
The Great Fire of London of i1666 demolished the cathedral on the site, resulting in Sir Christopher Wren’s design being built as London regenerated.
Until half a century ago, it remained the tallest building in London, dominating the skyline.
It is a working Anglican church but also a building geared for the many tourists who visit each year.
It uses the advantage of natural light that shows off its mosaics and paintings at their best.
If you feel energetic, there are 528 steps to reach the Golden Gallery, where you will have great views across the city.
On the way, you will see the Whispering Gallery and the Stone Gallery. Several notable people from the past have tombs and memorials in the cathedral, examples being Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. Skip the line and buy your entry ticket to this landmark here.
8- Cruise The Regent’s Canal To Camden
Regent’s Canal was always an important waterway; in days gone by, canals played a vital role in commerce.
Those days have largely gone, but in the case of Regent’s Canal, it flows through a district nicknamed “Little Venice.”
Signs of wealth in former days, and today, are there on both banks.
Today’s owners of the magnificent mansions and their beautiful gardens are undoubtedly wealthy and often famous.
When these mansions were built, the owners were the elite of London.
As you head down to Camden and spend some time at its market, you may forget you are in a busy, densely populated city. Book your boat trip now.
9- Walk Whitechapel On The Jack The Ripper Walking Tour
It was autumn in London in 1888 when Jack’s killing spree frightened the local community.
The mystery about the identity of Jack the Ripper remains today, over 130 years since he preyed on women in Whitechapel.
Your guide will talk about his crimes and the ideas of his true identity during a walk taking you back to Victorian times.
He killed five female prostitutes that autumn, and six others over the next two years are arguably also victims of Jack.
There are many theories about Jack’s identity, and you will hear the names of some of the suspects on this tour.
It may inspire you to do more research of your own after the walk is over. Reserve your spot on this popular walking tour here.
10- Hop On And Off An Open-Top Bus
There are several bus tour options around central London and its many attractions.
It is a great way to familiarise yourself with London before spending more time at your favourites.
If your London autumn day is dry, then the open-top double-decker is the way to see things.
You will get a commentary as you travel, with several language options.
Typically, you will travel along the banks of the Thames. Top attractions include St. Paul’s, Big Ben, Parliament and the London Eye.
Even if you are already familiar with London, the “hop on hop off” concept means you can decide on attractions you wish to visit that day and use the bus as your transport. Get your tickets here.
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11- Immerse Yourself In Westminster Abbey
The Gothic masterpiece that is Westminster Abbey is the place of weddings and coronations and the last resting place of royalty as well as famous citizens in the country’s history.
Every coronation since 1066 has been held in Westminster Abbey and the famous coronation chair is one of the things you will see.
It is the UK’s oldest piece of furniture that is still being used for its original purpose.
Poet’s Corner within the Abbey remembers Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, C. S. Lewis, the list goes on. Skip the line and reserve your ticket to Westminster Abbey here.
12- See The Changing Of The Guard
The ceremony where the old guard is replaced by the new is a morning event at Buckingham Palace, usually held every other day, is known quite logically as the Changing of the Guard.
The King’s Guard comprises active soldiers from the Household Division’s Foot Guards who wear Bearskin hats and red tunics.
The event starts at 10.30 am, with the actual handover 30 minutes later.
When major events occur in London, there will be no “changing”, so to be certain, you might like to consider booking a tour that includes this particular activity.
13- Watch A Shakespeare Play At The Globe
Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre on the banks of the Thames are inextricably linked.
Shakespeare wrote several famous plays while he was there, performing as an actor and running the theatre.
The original theatre, made from wood, burnt down following an accident with a misfiring cannon.
That was early in the 17th century. Half a century ago, the present Globe Theatre came into being following the original design.
The Globe is not the only theatre where you can see a Shakespeare play, but given a choice, surely the Globe is the place to go? The London Pass will get you in the door to the Globe and 80+ attractions.
14- Stroll Around Hampstead Heath
Autumn is a season of change and the time when leaves change colour and then fall from the trees.
Hampstead Heath is a popular open space where locals and visitors can enjoy a walk while looking at the changing colours.
One interesting walk starts at a local pub and finishes at another, taking two hours in all, unless you decide to stop to admire the autumn leaves along the way.
Newcomers can get lost on the Heath, so following this defined route has many advantages.
The Southampton Arms in Kentish Town is your starting point, and on entering the Heath, head uphill to Parliament Hill lido.
Still uphill from there before taking the path down through the forest and past a large pond, then Kenwood House before arriving at your destination, the Spaniard’s Inn. A fun way to explore is to try a self-guided walking discovery game.
15- Watch International Rugby At Twickenham
London is almost always the place where England plays international sports.
Wembley is the soccer stadium, but the game programme varies yearly. You can book a guided tour of the stadium.
The English Rugby Union side plays at Twickenham in southwest London every autumn except during World Cup.
The opposition in these “friendly” games is from the Southern Hemisphere, and unlike the 6 Nations games in the spring, which are always completely sold out, there is a chance of getting a ticket through agencies.
You will need to check with them in advance, but visiting Twickenham is always memorable.
16- Join In Bonfire Night Celebrations
Guy Fawkes tried his best to blow up the Houses of Parliament early in the 17th century.
As a Catholic, he planned to help the Spanish against his Protestant homeland.
The Gunpowder plot aimed to kill King James I and members of parliament and although it failed, the occasion remains in people’s minds.
Bonfire Night on 5 November involves fireworks, many in wonderful colours that light up the skies.
Some families still celebrate in their back garden, but these days, large fires and the controlled use of fireworks are the norm.
In London, the most famous fires where the “Guy” is set alight include ones at Alexandra Palace, Wimbledon, Kingston, Richmond and Newham.
17- Enjoy The London Film Festival
London has hosted an annual Film Festival since the middle of the last century.
It takes place in October over almost two weeks, showcasing the best of world cinema in various categories.
Filmmakers wanting their productions to be screened need to make applications a few months in advance.
Organisers also work hard to find suitable films in categories such as documentary, animation, fiction and family films.
18- Swing At London Jazz Festival
London Jazz Festival has a comprehensive programme of events at venues right across London.
You should be able to see a show close to where you are staying in London, but the place to go is the Barbican on the South Bank, which has held events for 30 years.
Performers flock here from far and wide to play at the festival, and if you check online, you may find your favourites appearing.
19- Watch Covent Garden Street Performances
Covent Garden is a district that has become very popular over the last few decades.
It has great restaurants, and excellent shopping, and its creative street performers have rightly added to its attractions.
You may think that street performers arrive casually and perform. Some cities do, but in Covent Garden, a professional management infrastructure vets and organises the performances.
Autumn weather is still reasonably good, with outdoor performers around in the evenings and if it rains, just head to a bar or restaurant.
20- Shop In The Borough Market
This is the oldest food market in London.
Traders began selling their goods here in the 13th century and today’s visitors should go when they are hungry because there are plenty of delicious goodies to enjoy.
In the past, it was essentially British food offered by street vendors, but these days, the cuisine is truly international.
The market is popular and it gets busy, so be prepared to squeeze through a crowd.
It closes on Sundays, and the next two days just have a limited number of vendors, but from then onwards until Saturday night, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to food.
So pay a visit, buy your food and head to the riverbank for a picnic or join this secret British food tour.